|Wednesday, 18 July 2012|
OIL major Chevron has no plans to re-enter Papua New Guinea or bid for an operating stake in the country’s InterOil-led Gulf LNG project, says an industry source.
While campaigning for the 2012 election which is yet to have an outcome, PNG Treasurer Don Polye told The National in May that Chevron was returning to PNG to partner with InterOil over the Gulf LNG project.
Polye also told the PNG newspaper that he met with representatives of Chevron Niugini who were looking at the project.
He further claimed “Chevron’s comeback” to PNG to develop the country’s second-largest LNG project was positive assurance of investor confidence.
Chevron Niugini discovered the Kutubu oil field (which is also a PNG LNG project field) in the Southern Highlands in 1986 while Oil Search finalised its acquisition of the Chevron subsidiary in 2003.
But any calls of a Chevron comeback to PNG, or of its possible involvement in InterOil’s ongoing hunt for a world-class LNG operator, might simply be premature if not incorrect.
A Chevron spokesperson was not particularly enlightening on the topic and did not clarify whether the response it gave to PNGIndustryNews.net was stock standard.
“Chevron actively pursues new business opportunities globally that meet our criteria for investment,” the Chevron Asia Pacific spokesperson told PNGIndustryNews.net.
“As part of these efforts, Chevron regularly engages with national, regional and international stakeholders.
“As per our long-standing policy, we do not discuss specific business opportunities.”
But according to a Chevron-savvy source, the oil major has no specific plans to re-enter PNG at this time.
The source further said PNG was just on Chevron’s “watch list” but it might consider any opportunity that met its strategic and business objectives.
InterOil’s ongoing formal process to find a suitable LNG operator for the project began in October.
The biggest interest confirmed and first revealed by the PNG government so far was from the Far East Consortium, comprising Korean Gas Corporation, Japan Petroleum Exploration Company and InterOil’s condensate stripping plant project partner Mitsui.
“It’s a strong consortium. It represents the largest single buyer – Kogas in Korea – and a lot of Japanese interest so it’s the two largest LNG markets joining together. I feel that’s a positive,” InterOil chief executive officer Phil Mulacek previously told PNGIndustryNews.net.
Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma and state-owned Gulf LNG project partner Petromin have both supported Royal Dutch Shell as their preferred candidate.
As of last year, the Gulf LNG project was targeting 5 million tonnes per annum in 2014, with 3Mtpa from an Energy World Corporation-designed onshore modular LNG plant in Gulf province and the rest from a floating LNG facility.
There is also a proposed ramp-up aiming to hit up to 8Mtpa from the total project through 2015 and 2016.
Back in 2009, the project was based on a 7.6-10.6Mtpa LNG plant near Port Moresby.
All project plans are based on commercialising InterOil’s Elk-Antelope discoveries in PNG’s Gulf province.
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